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An investigation into the interrelationship between the Multiple Drafts model of consciousness and the Predictive Processing theory

Grant number: 21/03688-0
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): March 01, 2022
Effective date (End): January 31, 2023
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Philosophy - Epistemology
Principal Investigator:Osvaldo Frota Pessoa Junior
Grantee:Maria Luiza Iennaco de Vasconcelos
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


The present Research Project aims to contribute to the advancement of the neuro-philosophical debate about consciousness, as well as the verification of some possible applications of a particular model of philosophical understanding in a prominent contemporary framework underlying the current scenario of empirical research on human cognition. To do so, we will start from the Dennettian assumption that the empirical study of consciousness must be developed under an "illusionist" perspective (i.e., rejecting the view that "consciousness" consists of private mental qualities and arguing that it involves a physical relationship with the world through a network of informational reactions and sensitivities), and that the way in which we interpret our cognitive functions can elucidate the functional understanding of so-called "conscious experiences". The framework for the study of cognition that will be explored here consists of the Predictive Processing (PP) theory, which treats the neural apparatus as incapable of having any direct access to the states of our bodies and their surroundings, thus limiting itself to the realization of inferences about them, an approach which is increasingly being applied by philosophical analyses - especially in the works of Jakob Hohwy (2014) and Andy Clark (2013, 2016) - as well as in neuroscientific studies - particularly by Karl Friston (2005). As we will see, although PP has shown itself to be very promising and competent in elucidating the human cognition, conceiving it as a "Bayesian posterior probability model" (which, given the evidences, first processes a set of predictive hypotheses to later delegate possible causes to the stimulus, therefore making the mapping of perceptual sensations to causes), it still presents certain inconsistencies regarding its exposure of our "mental life", due to the lack of better clarifications on the distinction between conscious and unconscious states. Hence, (1) we will use Daniel Dennett's Multiple Drafts model (1991) - which conceives "consciousness" as the result of the combination of multiple and parallel streams of information processed by the brain, probed at any moment in time and space - in order to minimize such issue, "translating", in "illusionist terms", how PP could explain the occurrence of conscious and unconscious processes in the brain - particularly in what concerns a possible "probing of our perceptual intuitions". Subsequently (and finally), (2) we will focus our main objectives on exploring the possibilities of the existing neuroscientific empirical literature, regarding the outlines and transition between conscious and unconscious processes through the deployment of PP explanations, being capable of elucidating the "real" applicability of such a model, and its - increasingly popular - enactivist theoretical variant (i.e., its philosophical interpretation according to the argument that cognition "emerges" from the dynamic interaction between active organisms and their environments) being able to expand it, in order to assist and contribute to the intensification of the emerging contemporary influx of genuinely interdisciplinary scientific studies on consciousness.

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Academic Publications
(References retrieved automatically from State of São Paulo Research Institutions)
VASCONCELOS, Maria Luiza Iennaco de. What is the role played by the tripartite theory of the soul expressed in Plato\'s Republic?. 2023. Master's Dissertation - Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH/SBD) São Paulo.

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